Russia's president and prime minister led tributes today to late former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who is to be laid to rest in a state funeral later today.
Putin, speaking at the funeral ceremony, praised Chernomyrdin for leading Russia through a turbulent period in the early 1990s.
"Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin became head of the government in 1992, in the most difficult period of our national history. One can only guess what kind of moral and physical stress it cost him," Putin said.
Chernomyrdin was prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin from 1992 to 1998, a period that saw war with Chechnya and near economic meltdown.
Chernomyrdin, a former Soviet minister of gas, is credited with building Gazprom into the world's largest gas company after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
He is to be buried in Moscow's Novodevichy cemetery, where many notable Russians are buried.
compiled from agency reports